What Makes 90’s Hip-Hop So Special? Pt 1

90’s Hip-Hop will always have a special place in my heart even if it’s 20+ years later. And yes, I realize that every generation says and thinks their generation of music reigns supreme. But I really truly do think 90’s Hip-Hop was the “Golden Era” of hip-hop. Heck to be honest you could argue that the 90’s was the best decade in music period. From grunge rock to alternative pop to hip-hop it was an amazing time period.

Maybe it’s because I went through my adolescence in the 90’s? So many summer days were spent listening to music whether that be on the radio or on my walkman, there was always a pair of headphones on. In fact I spent a pretty penny on good quality headphones just to listen to music. And no, earbud style headphones were not popping back in the day.

During my early teens, I didn’t yet have a car so I rode public transportation to wherever I needed to go, sometimes 50+ miles one way. To pass the time I always had some fresh batteries locked and loaded in my walkman later to be my discman with anti-skip. Wow…..anti-skip, what you know about that? I distinctly remember spending summer days listening to music nearly all day long. I had a couple of buddies who were audiophiles as well. We would sit around and recite lyrics and …”argue all day about who’s the best MCs, Biggie Jay-Z and NaS?”

I’ll admit, I didn’t really have a subgenre of hip-hop I listened to until I met a soon to be best friend of mine in high school. He was from upstate New York and he exposed me to some really good music to which I developed a taste for. I started to listen more carefully and became interested in discography of artists and producers. I found out a lot of different things as I began investigating an artists sound. I learned where the artists came from, who produced their records, who their features were, what part of the country they were from and what label they were currently on. While I never really took close notice of things before, they were big indicators of what an artists sounds like and were often a good predictor if I would like the music they created.

So many styles, so much influence. The 90’s were an interesting time politically as well and this was reflected in music much like it is in other creative outlets or pop culture. The economy was just recovering from late 80’s turmoil and would expand ferociously. The US was involved in the Gulf war and we were in the middle of transitioning to a new presidency. You can see many of these issues and transitions reflected in 90’s music.

-Part II coming soon-

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